Agriculture and soil biodiversity | IUCN

Links between agriculture and biodiversity

Instead of trying to understand farming on its own terms, recognize that farming ultimately comes from nature. Today, agriculture is the #1 treatment of biodiversity on the planet.

– Wes Jackson, pioneer and researcher in natural systems agriculture and one of the leading figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement

Issues around current farming methods

Over the past decades, the agricultural sector has dramatically increased its productivity and significantly reduced the number of food insecure people in the world, but at high costs for nature.

In many parts of the world, the intensification and expansion of agriculture has degraded soils and ecosystems, depleted water sources and reduced biodiversity. As a result, farmers often have no choice but to seek new land to work on or to use the soil as a substrate with massive synthetic inputs.

Overuse of inputs harms the long-term viability of agriculture, as it damages soils, reduces biodiversity, and ultimately harms our ability to feed the growing world population. According to the FAO, more than 25% of arable soil in the world is degraded and the equivalent of a football field of soil is eroded every five seconds.

Average yields increased until the 1990s, but have stagnated and even declined in some parts of the world since.

Future demand for food will increase as the human population increases, and the environmental footprint of agriculture is expected to increase with it. This demand must be met under changing climatic conditions, which will affect the quality and quantity of agricultural products (Ebi and Loladze, 2019).